Quattro passi, Villorba, TAMassociati's ecological district
TAMassociati has completed another social housing project: Quattro passi, an ecological co-housing project for eight families near Villorba, in the province of Treviso (Italy).
Floornature has been covering TAMassociati since well before the Villorba project, not only because of the many prizes and awards the studio has received, including the prestigious recent appointment to curate the Italian pavilion at the next Architecture Biennale in Venice, but above all for projects such as Banca Etica in Padua and Emergency’s hospitals in Sudan, in the Central African Republic and in Sierra Leone, expressing a construction philosophy the architects themselves sum up as “taking care in architetcure”.
Quattro passi is an ecological neighbourhood outside Villorba, where the city becomes countryside and the houses begin to be farther apart. The co-housing project includes eight single residences with gabled roofs in line with the traditional rural architecture of the Po Valley, harmoniously arranged over a green lot measuring almost 7000 square metres, with shared spaces and structures. Access to the district, on foot or by bicycle, is from the north, at the entrance to the neighbourhood from the road by the Giavera River, with a large parking area for private vehicles plus parking for car-sharing vehicles, linked with a ring joining the common space, all eight homes and a shared garden on the southern end of the lot. The homes face east and west, four on each side, and are not separated but surrounded by a garden courtyard.
In typological, compositional and structural terms, the project complies with particularly rigid requirements that require construction of bungalows with gabled roofs and rectangular floor plans in order to preserve the traditional features of rural architecture in the area. Fitting into this tradition, TAMassociati’s project makes practically no concessions to the ornamentation typical of that form of mannerism that reproduces historical models without developing them further; this formal cleanliness is combined with use of the colour associated with the shutters on each home on the façade, differentiating the homes and adding motion and customisation.
As in a traditional Italian village, the homes face onto the main square and the town hall, which in this case is the “shared house”, the heart of it all. Here the “Town Hall” physically and ideologically represents the public realm, because it includes a multipurpose hall with a kitchen designed for parties, meetings and all kinds of indoor get-togethers, with an area set up for manual work, a guest bedroom, a warehouse for use by a joint buying group and an arcade used as a play area facing the courtyard/town square.
What used to be the rules of the neighbourhood when several families lived on a single farm in the Italian countryside, helping each other and sharing food and spaces such as the washrooms and laundry area, are adopted as an example developed in the co-housing philosophy. There are no borders or fences separating the “private” gardens of the residential units, but the built and the natural come together in a big green courtyard, just like the traditional farmyard, which was a place of transit but also a place for welcoming guests and holding celebrations, a place where children could play freely in a naturally protected environment. All this inspires the solutions now used at Quattro passi, so that, for example, the children enjoy a shared playground, without having to stop when they come to the gate to another house’s garden. These ideological choices permitted important economies of scale in the construction of the buildings, using materials conforming to the standards of bio-architecture, obtaining energy class A certification and using renewable energy sources and biomass.
What is even more innovative today is the fact that in TAMassociati’s project, the private dimension has not been sacrificed in the name of the social dimension, thanks to careful study of the interiors of the homes specifically for and with the assistance of the families, with a particular focus on interaction between interior and exterior and use of colour as a tool for differentiating and enriching the façades.
Participatory process and design: studio TAMassociati
Sponsorship and promotion: Cooperativa Pace e Sviluppo
Consultancy in participatory processes and new lifestyles: Andrea Mariotto, Associazione Cambieresti? Onlus
Technical systems: Climosfera
Structural design: engineer Steffinlongo of INGECO
Property search and construction: Cooperativa Sa.Fra e impresa EcoDomus
Location: Villorba (Italy)
Lot size: 6678 sqm
Planned built surface: 654 m2
Project start: 2010
Start of construction: 2013
Shared house: about 230 m2
Outdoor spaces: about 6000 m2
Net construction cost: € 1,350,000.00
Total cost of the project: € 2,000,000.00
Cost of homes and common areas : € 1,700/m2 turnkey
Structure made of thick energy-efficient bricks
Photos: © Andrea Avezzù, TAMassociati